(Kuala Lumpur, Friday): Gerakan President and Primary Industries Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Lim Keng Yaik should publicly apologise to the people of Malaysia for his negligence and irresponsibility 12 years ago in supporting and approving in Cabinet the unfair and one-sided North-South Expressway privatisation concession, which had mortgaged the rights of Malaysians for three long decades as well as set the bad precedent for other highway privatisation concessions.
Keng Yaik said in an interview with Sin Chew Jit Poh yesterday that the Opposition was only good for criticism, but if the Cabinet had heeded the criticism of the DAP in 1987 and 1988 in our opposition to the privatisation of the North-South Expressway to United Engineers Malaysia Bhd. (UEM), the people would not have the burdensome tolls and the one-sided toll rate increases in the nationís highways today.
I had at the time coined the term "piratisation" to describe the rapacious aspects of the highway privatisation programme. For standing up for the rights of Malaysians in opposing the North-South Expressway privatisation, DAP Deputy National Chairman, MP for Jelutong and my counsel, Karpal Singh, were detained under the Internal Security Act during Operation Lalang crackdown in October 1987.
For disregarding the rights and interests of Malaysians in approving the unfair and one-sided North-South Expressway concession terms, Keng Yaik continued in the high office in the Cabinet year-in-and-year-out in the past 12 years!
Yet Keng Yaik had the cheek yesterday to say the Opposition is only good for making criticisms!
Some Gerakan officials had spoken up against the unfair highway tolls contract but the reason is not because they are concerned about the hardships of the people, but worried that they will lose the peopleís support in the next general election over the issue.
If the Gerakan is sincerely and seriously opposed to the unfair and unaccountable highway privatisation contracts, then the Gerakan Minister in the Cabinet should have supported the DAPís protests against the North-South Expressway privatisation 12 years ago.
This has been admited by none other than the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad when he said that Barisan Nasional component parties are worried that the government "would lose in the coming general election for increasing the toll".
This means that Gerakan and MCA officials are making noise and protesting about the highway tolls not because they are in sympathy with the people but fear of losing votes in the next general election - and that they would have kept quiet if all the furore over unfair tolls had erupted after the next general election.